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port came from another quarter, at first throughout Prussia - nay, throughout sight surprising, -- from Napoleon him

Europe

as the real centre of German self. The great conqueror, planning to activity against the Napoleonic tyranny. draw heavily upon Prussian finances, fa- Towering thus above all contemporary vored Stein as a man who could develop growths of Prussian statesmanship, he them. Thus it was that, less than ten did not seek to overshadow or wither months after his ignominious dismissal, them. There have been great statesStein was requested by the King to re- men dissatisfied until they have received sume his old place, and, in addition, to all royal and popular favor; unhappy become Minister-President of the king- until all their colleagues have drooped dom, with full charge of the civil ad- beneath their shadow. Stein was not of ministration, and with great powers in these: determined as he always was, and military and foreign affairs, – thus be- irritable as he frequently was, his activity coming a legislator for Prussia, with the

called into being other activities, and duty of meeting the terrible exigencies these he favored and fostered; under of the present and of promoting a better his influence other strong and independsystem for the future.

ent men grew and strengthened; and of There were then in being two great them were such men as Hardenberg, commissions, with which he had long Scharnhorst, Gneisenau, and Schön. been in touch, one on civil, the other on While taking care of the complicated military matters; his ideas had taken and vexatious affairs pressing upon him possession of their members, and had from all sides, Stein and his compeers wrought on them to good purpose. Stein promoted a twofold revolution. The first now became the great man in the first of was peaceable, favoring the creation of these bodies, and in the second he had by new institutions from which might grow a his side another great man, his friend, better spirit in the German people ; the General Scharnhorst.

second was warlike, and, for a considerWhen these men now resumed their able time, secret and insurrectionary, — work, the half of the Prussian kingdom a revolution against the Napoleonic tyrwhich had been left by Napoleon to its anny, and as truly an effort for rational former government was a wreck, — its liberty as had been the American, and, at resources mortgaged to France, its de. its beginning, the French Revolution. fenders under the command of the con- The peaceful revolution naturally queror, its people impoverished and be- comes first in our thoughts, for it was numbed. The spirit of Stein during this the necessary preliminary of the second. period is best described in his own Faithfully Stein and the great men who reminiscences:

stood by him thought and wrought; not “We started,” he says, “from the spasmodically, not by orations to apfundamental idea of rousing a moral, re- plauding galleries, but quietly and steadligious, patriotic spirit in the nation; of ily, in the council chamber; and on the inspiring it anew with courage, self-con- 9th of October, 1807, appeared the first fidence, readiness for every sacrifice in of the great edicts of emancipation. the cause of independence and national These had three main purposes: first, to honor; and of seizing the first favorable abolish the serf system; secondly, to opportunity to begin the bloody and haz

sweep away restrictions in buying and ardous struggle for both."

selling land; thirdly, to prevent the great His greatness in character, in thought, proprietors from using their position and and in work, was recognized by his friends capital to buy up small farms, after the from the beginning. But as his task grew English fashion, and thus rooting out the upon him and his plans unfolded more yeomanry. Underlying, overarching, and and more, his brain was recognized permeating all these objects was

one a

great thought and purpose, — the intent burg peasantry had, under feudal tenure, to create a new people.

the use of a little land, but the great body First, as to the serf system. It was es- of peasants were virtually day-laborers. sentially the same mass of evil which had In Silesia the peasant was, as a rule, held done so much to bring on the revolution under strict serfdom: compelled to rein France. De Tocqueville has shown main on the land; could only marry by how the wrongs which grew out of out- consent of his lord; and his children worn feudalism had separated the French were obliged to remain on the soil as farm nation into distinct peoples, hating each laborers unless graciously permitted by other more and more, and at last ready to the lord of the land to take up some other spring at each other's throats. This pro- occupation. In the principality of Mincess had not gone so far in Germany as den, at the death of every peasant onein France. The French mind, with its half of his little movable property went clearness and its proneness to carry ideas to his lord. In Polish Prussia, the serf, as to their logical results, had moved faster a rule, could own absolutely nothing. and farther than had the thoughts of the He and all that was his belonged to his lower classes in Germany; but the Ger- lord; the land owners had managed to man peasantry, and, indeed, the whole evade even the simplest feudal obligation, German people beneath the nobility, had and could throw out their tenants as they become more and more indifferent to chose. the ties which guaranteed national unity. Various Prussian rulers had striven to When we read Arthur Young's indignant diminish the pressure of all this wrong. accounts of the French peasantry as he Frederick the Great, cynical as he apsaw them just on the eve of the Revolu- peared, sought to mitigate the brutalizing tion, we naturally think that France, influences of this debased feudalism, and as regarded her rural population, had Frederick William III had shown a wish reached a lower point than had any of to make some beginning of better things; her sister nations; but there is ample but the adverse influences were too evidence that rural Germany was at strong. Nobles and clergy were then in that time certainly as wretched as rural Protestant Prussia what they had been France, and possibly more so. Goethe, in the days of Turgot in Catholic France, who went over the French frontier with and their orators struck their keynote in the German army in 1792, tells us that he declaring this existing order of things "a found in the cabins of the French peas- system ordained by God;” that thereantry white bread and wine, whereas in by alonė virtue, honor, and property those of the German peasantry he had could be secured; that to change it was found only black bread and no wine. As to give up their beautiful, patriarchal to galling oppression, had ·Arthur Young heritage. Hearing this utterance, one gone into the Prussian dominions, he

would suppose that under this system the would doubtless have given us pictures rule was kind treatment from the upper, quite as harrowing as those he brought and love from the lower classes; but the from France. Take a few of the leading fact was that while the feudal lord's idea Prussian regions. In Brandenburg, - of his right had become grossly magnified largely an agricultural region, -- out of his idea of his duty had mainly disapninety thousand inhabitants, there were

peared; the system had become fearhardly three hundred and fifty who owned fully oppressive and was enveloped in a land; these held sway in courts, churches, cloud of distrust, faultfinding, and hate.' schools, enjoyed police and hunting priv

1 For a very clear detailed statement regardileges, and down to 1799 were mainly ing the condition of the Prussian and German exempt from tolls, taxes, and service as

peasantry generally, see Häusser: Deutsche soldiers. About one-sixth of the Branden- Geschichte, vol. iii, pp. 123 and following.

And not only were the people who which supplemented it, - transforming cultivated the land thus bound, but the serfs into freemen throughout Prussia, — very soil itself was in fetters — tied up by various colleagues and assistants of Stein, feudal restrictions as to sale and cultiva- and especially Hardenberg, Altenstein, tion which had become absurd. Under and Schön, deserve also to be forever the old system, the three castes the held in remembrance. They too had nobility, the burghers, the peasants given long and trying labor to it all; had been carefully kept each to itself. they had taken the better thought of The rule, resulting from the theory un- their time and brought it into effective derlying the whole, was that the nobil- form; but the credit of giving life to what ity must not engage in the occupations of they thus produced, and of forcing their the burgher class; that burghers must main ideas upon the conservatism of the be kept well separated from the peasant nation, — beginning with the King himclass; and that to this end, all three self, — belongs, first of all, to Stein. classes should be hampered by a network Others saw, as he did, the causes of the of restrictions upon their power to hold Prussian downfall; others contributed land. Barriers of every sort had been precious thought in devising this great built between these three classes. Broad restoration; but his was the eye which tracts of land were lying waste because saw most clearly the goal which must their noble proprietors had not the cap- be reached; his the courage which withital with which to till them, and yet were stood all threats and broke through forbidden to sell them; great amounts of all obstacles; his the mental strength capital were lying idle because burghers which, out of vague beliefs and aspirawho had accumulated it were by the laws tions, developed fundamental, constituand customs hindered in various ways

tional laws; his the moral strength from applying it to land owned by nobles; which, more than that of

any

other Gertrade was stagnant and multitudes of man statesman, uplifted three-fourths young nobles idle because they must not of the whole population, gave them a engage in trade. All this, with many new interest in the kingdom, and a feeling kindred masses of evil which had been for its welfare such as had never before developed in the same spirit, were now

been known in Prussia, and thus did largely swept away, yet not without op- most to create that national spirit which position; political philosophers and de- was destined

sweep everything before claimers filled the air with arguments to

it in the Freedom War of 1813, in the prove these reforms wicked and perilous; War for German Unity in 1866, and in nobles of the court, high officers of the the Franco-Prussian War of 1870. army, and landed proprietors, in great It may be objected to these claims numbers, caballed against the reformer; for Stein that the fundamental thought General Yorck, one of the best and in his reforms was derived from Adam strongest men of the time, declared the Smith. That statement is true. It cannew measures monstrous; but Stein

per

not be denied that Adam Smith, penesevered and forced through the edict trating thinker that he was, set in mowhich, three years later, on St. Martin's tion the trains of thought which largely Day, 1810, struck feudal fetters from resulted in Prussian emancipation; yet two-thirds of the Prussian people, and 2 For a very full discussion of Adam Smith's extinguished serfdom under Prussian rule influence, see Roscher in the Berichte der forever. 1

niglich Sächsischen Gesellschaft der Wissenschaft

en, 1867; and for a careful statement as to the It is only just to say that for this great edict of 1807 and for the later legislation scher's concession is all the more convincing this detracts not at all from the glory The old city system of Europe had, of Stein and the statesmen who wrought many centuries before, been a main with him. All the more glory to them agency in developing civilization: Guizot for recognizing, developing, and, finallydeclares it the main legacy from Rome for enforcing the great Englishman's to the Middle Ages; Maurer asserts that thought, in a way which has proved a it saved the Reformation. The Roman blessing, not merely to Germany, but Empire was made up of cities. When to humanity.

influence of Smith on Stein, see pp. 5, 6. RoSee Treitschke: Deutsche Geschichte, vol. i, since he is clearly inclined to minimize Smith's

influence on German thought in general.

p. 281.

all else save the Church was swept away Another great work now begun by and the country districts desolated, these

, Stein was the reform of the city govern

cities remained, and in them was a conments. The enfranchisement of the serfs tinuity of much that was best in the old had been due, largely, to the spirit of civilization, and a potency of vast good reform aroused in general thought by in the new. During the Middle Ages

. Voltaire, Rousseau, and their compeers, their.vigor increased. The cities wrested and in economic science by Adam Smith; from the feudal lords right after right; but this city reform was peculiarly his the city magnates leagued with the disown; the need of it had doubtless been tant emperor or king against the petty felt by many; good methods of promot- feudal oppressors immediately above ing it had been seen by few; the practical them; when the feudal lords wanted measure for carrying it into effect was money to join the Crusades the cities the work of Stein alone.

brought it, and bought with it rights This system, which has been fruitful and immunities. The commerce of the in blessings ever since his time, though Middle Ages developed many of these in principle somewhat like that of Eng- towns nobly, especially throughout Italy land, differed from it widely. It was the and Germany; but Vasco da Gama's very opposite of the system fastened upon passage around the Cape of Good Hope France by the French Revolution and having largely withdrawn trade with by Napoleon. As Seeley very justly the East Indies from the Mediterransays, “The French Revolution began ean, the commercial cities, not only in at the top, creating a central national Italy, but even in Germany, lost for a legislature and giving all the power to time a very large share of their prosperthat, leaving town and local organiz- ity. ations generally deprived of all life, During the Reformation period, many making the prefects of departments and of the German cities having recovered the mayors of communities mere func- strength and shown hospitality to the tionaries appointed from the central new thought, various leading reformers government at Paris and representing in Northern and Middle Germany took the ideas of the capital.” The reform of refuge in them, and there found protecStein began at the base, giving self- tion against Pope and Emperor. In the government to the towns, schooling them League of Schmalkald, sturdily defying in managing their own affairs, in check- all efforts to crush out civil and religious ing their own functionaries, in taking liberty, we find territorial princes assotheir own responsibilities. While keeping ciated in a widespread confederation with the central monarchy strong, his great warlike cities; but in the seventeenth exertion was to restore fitness for public century the Thirty Years' War ruined life in the country at large: by his first

many of these city centres, and diminreform he had converted the rural serfs ished the power of them all; so that into beings who could feel that they had after the Treaty of Westphalia the sway an interest in the country; by this new of the princes was greatly extended, and reform he sought to exercise the city only a few of the greater cities could populations in public affairs.

withstand them.

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Especially did political liberty, that is, had also thought upon it, and at last, the right of citizens to take part in public at Königsberg, afar off in the northeast affairs, die out in Prussia. The strong corner of the Prussian state, in this its race of the Hohenzollerns might at times time of dire trouble, some of them premake use of a local self-government, but pared a tentative plan of self-government as a rule they overrode it, and every- for their own city. This plan, largely thing tended more and more to central- under the influence of Stein, now grew ization; until finally the genius and into a provisional system covering sundry absolute power

of Frederick the Great neighboring towns, and this, under quiet seemed to remove from men's minds the suggestions from him, was finally sent last remaining ideas essential to city to the King. His Majesty naturally reindependence. The individual citizen ferred the whole matter back to his great was comparatively of no account; he minister, who now began work upon it became essentially a parasite, living upon directly and energetically, and devela state whose real life was centred in the oped out of it a system applicable not brain of the monarch. As a result of only to the cities which had asked for it, all this, whatever authorities there were but to all the towns in the Prussian in the German towns wrought at cross kingdom. Thus, mainly under Stein's purposes: there was a medley of various hands, came into being the great statutes sorts of municipalities, and in them, for municipal reform. royal tax administrators, municipal fig- By these statutes the municipal medureheads, guilds, privileges, customs, ley of Prussia was swept away, and the usages, exemptions, ceremonies, be- cities were divided into three classes : numbing the whole organization, save "great towns,” with ten thousand resiwhen some genius like the Great Elector dents and upward; “middle towns," or Frederick the Great broke through with thirty-five hundred residents and them. The mass of dwellers in cities upward; "small towns," all the others. came more and more to consider public Every town now took part in the elecaffairs as no concern of theirs."

tion of its own authorities, and in all So far had this obliteration of city towns of above eight hundred inhabitants activities gone in Prussian towns that there was a division into wards, each with although various guilds, corporations, its own local powers. and privileged persons were the nominal As a rule, all were recognized as authorities, the paid offices were filled burghers who owned real estate or other largely with old invalids of the army. property which insured a direct, tanAnd what, in a general national emer- gible interest in the city; but soldiers, gency, was to be expected from a nation Jews, Mennonites, and criminals were made up of a city class like this, and of a excluded. Magistrates and town reprerural class like the serfs in the fields ? sentatives were, as a rule, selected by No wonder that Prussians seemed to look the assembly of citizens, the number of on the downfall of Prussia and Germany councilors varying from twenty-four in with stupid indifference, and applauded the smaller to a hundred in the larger Napoleon at the Brandenburg Gate. towns. Every elector must appear at

On this mass of unreason in the city the polls and vote, under penalty of losorganizations Stein had thought for ing his citizenship by continued neglect years. Other patriotic public servants of this duty. Two-thirds of the town

councilors must be resident household1 For a lucid account of the action of the

ers; they received no pay, and, as to Great Elector and Frederick the Great in at times breaking through these city privileges,

the theory of their relations with their or, as they were called. “ rights," see Tuttle :

constituents, it is well worth noting that History of Prussia.

each represented, not his guild, not his

a

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